In the context of the simultaneous exhibition “8 Objects, 8 Museums” by the Leibniz research museums, the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum presents an important milestone in the development of rescue devices for the mining industry: the Dräger model 1904/09 breathing apparatus.
The breathing apparatus by the Dräger company, founded in 1889, is one example of these efforts. It was used by mine rescue teams and fire brigades. While the advanced technology significantly improved the rescuers’ work, they still had to adapt to the device’s limitations and proceed with caution. This gave rise to the motto: “Stehe still und sammle Dich!” (Stand still and compose yourself).
The exhaled air passes into the carbon dioxide filters (p¹/p²) through a layer of caustic potash; in the process, the majority of the carbon dioxide is converted into potassium carbonate and deposited. This generates a significant amount of heat, which is released into the ambient air through the condenser (I).
Dräger himself travelled to Courrières to assess the situation there. Of course, this was also economically motivated. A steep competition had developed on the market, and German mine rescue teams using safety equipment from the Westfalia AG participated in the rescue efforts in France. However, the Drägerwerke ultimately conquered the market, sealing the deal with the takeover of their key competitor, the Westfalia AG.
Not only in Germany was the breathing apparatus a tremendous success. By 1924, a total of 5,000 devices were in use in fifteen countries. With the continuous revision of breathing apparatuses and technical innovations, the Dräger company was able to become permanently established in numerous markets. In North American mining, rescue teams are still referred to as “Draegermen.”
The solidarity among miners also extended across international borders: After the terrible mining disaster in Courrières in northern France, German mine rescue teams came to the aid, even though political relations between Germany and France were tense. The public enthusiastically applauded this aid, and the German rescue teams eventually received official recognition by the French authorities. In addition to a medal, the honourees received a confirmation certificate, as shown here by the example of Friedrich Wulfmeier.
Early on, the strong sense of solidarity underground led to the establishment of “Knappschaften” (miners’ unions). These unions served as a model for the formation of modern social insurance systems. They developed from medieval fraternities and granted their members remarkable social support during times of illness and disability. In the event of death, widows and orphans were supported with considerable benefits.
Solidarity went along with a strong class consciousness – miners tended to associate with each other even in their spare time. Around the turn of the century, this gave rise to may sports and leisure clubs. Each year, in collaboration with the Landesverband der Berg- und Knappenvereine (state association of miners’ unions), the museum organises the “Bochumer Knappentag,” which is attended by approx. 450-500 miners, flag bearers in traditional costumes and marching bands.
The demonstration colliery presents the technical developments in coal and ore mining up to the modern extraction methods. Along a route of 2.5 kilometres, visitors can experience the day-to-day activities underground. A rope hoisting simulator with an air lock allows visitors to physically recreate the miners’ depth experience.
In the year 2004, the dating of a piece of charcoal made it possible to declare the discovery of the world’s oldest known gold mine to date in Sakdrissi/Georgia. Due to its cultural-historical significance, the pit was placed under protection in 2006; until 2013, the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum coordinated the research activities. In the meantime, the protection status of this unique object was revoked again in order to continue the commercial exploitation of the area’s gold deposits – an example of the conflicting interests of economy and culture.
„8 Objects, 8 Museums“ is a joint project of the Leibniz research museums and the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien in Tübingen on the occasion of the Leibniz Year 2016.
All reproduced documents, photos and films:
Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum, photos: 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22
Dräger-Werk AG & Co. KGaA, Lübeck: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13
Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum (produced by G+K-Film, Frankfurt): 19
Kurt Wardenga, Gladbeck: 17
H. Blossey: 18
AVttention/Klaus Stange, Marienheide: 23
Text and object selection:
Diana Modarressi-Tehrani, Stefan Brüggerhoff, with support by Michael Farrenkopf
Translation: Hendrik Herlyn
Dräger, Bernhard (1912): Der Werdegang des Rettungsapparates, Essen
Drägerwerk AG & Co. KGaA: Geschichten, die unser Unternehmen prägten (Stories that defined our company), Internet publication http://www.draeger.com/sites/de_corp/Pages/ueber-draeger/historie.aspx (accessed on 11/26/2016)
Farrenkopf, Michael (2006): Courrières 1906 – Eine Katastrophe in Europa. Explosionsrisiko und Solidarität im Bergbau. FFührer und Katalog zur Ausstellung des Deutschen Bergbau –Museums Bochum, des Institutes für Stadtgeschichte Gelsenkirchen und des Stadtarchivs Herne
Tafelski, Maxi (2009): Restaurierung eines Dräger Rettungsapparates – Modell 1904/09 aus der Sammlung des Deutschen Bergbau-Museums Bochum, Metalla 16.1, Bochum